Filling the Gaps

Imagine you, or your wife, is pregnant and as you’re taking a trip to visit family overseas, you go into early labor. After your beautiful baby is born, they conduct a series of routine tests on your baby, only to discover your baby has a critical congenital heart defect requiring open-heart surgery within days to ensure his survival. Your baby is airlifted to a different hospital, you are trying to navigate where to go all the while trying to pay for items in a foreign country. This is Terry’s story.

Terry is from Jamaica and was in South Carolina visiting her mom when she went into early labor. After spending a day with her baby, what happened next came so quickly her world was changed forever. A critical congenital heart defect was discovered through a routine newborn test that is now required as a result of the Emerson Rose Act. The Emerson Rose Act saved the life of Terry’s son. Had this pulse oximetry test not been performed, her son would have been discharged from the hospital, only to decline very rapidly. 

This medical test was a result of a 2012 SC State legislation bill that requires all newborns born in South Carolina to be given a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive, pulse oximetry test to understand the level of the child’s blood oxygen. The Emerson Rose Heart Foundation worked tirelessly with South Carolina State Senator Thomas Alexander, the American Heart Association, and many other volunteers on the Emerson Rose Act. Terry’s son and other heart babies are a beautiful testament to the many lives that have been saved with the Emerson Rose Act, praise God! 

Terry’s baby was life-flighted to MUSC where her son received life-saving heart surgery just days later. Shortly after her son was born, Terry’s husband traveled back to Jamaica to work to support his growing family, leaving Terry alone with a recovering newborn in a foreign country. 

“The most challenging thing has been getting news from doctors without my husband there to be with me for support. Doing this by myself is very difficult and lonely.”

When Terry’s social worker at MUSC told her about the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation, Terry immediately reached out for support. The ERHF worked with Terry, giving her the financial and emotional support she needed in the scariest time in which she has ever found herself. Volunteers from the ERHF spent time with Terry at the hospital and prayed with her. They also took her to dinner and church to give her respite from the long hospital hours and helped her pick up items she needed from local stores.  

“I couldn’t have asked for more and I hope one day to be in a position to donate back. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart those who have given to the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation. Donors probably never get to meet families like me and I want to say thank you.”

The needs of heart families go far beyond treatment that is covered by insurance. The ERHF strives to fill the gaps left by these medical emergencies through mortgage payment support, hospital meal tickets, groceries, and any other needs of the family. Beyond the monetary aspect, the emotional support the ERHF provides to heart families is invaluable. Terry is a true testament to the work of the ERHF. She says, “The greatest blessing in this journey is that my baby is alive!” The gift of a healthy baby is priceless and the ERHF strives to ensure that families across South Carolina can be blessed with that gift.